The term “general dentistry” encompasses a wide variety of dental procedures, each of which is designed to resolve structural problems in the patient’s teeth, including fixing damaged teeth and replacing missing teeth. Cosmetic dentistry, on the other hand, focuses purely on the appearance of the patient’s teeth. While there are significant differences between the two areas of dentistry, the procedures involved in each one often overlap. In this article, we’ll focus on each area in an effort to provide a greater understanding of both dental specialties.
If you have a cavity, or if you need to have an old filling replaced, you’ll be visiting the dentist for a general dentistry procedure. The same is true if you have a decayed root, an impacted tooth, of if you’re missing one or more teeth and want them replaced. So general dentistry procedures would include the following:
- Root canals
- Dental bridges
If you have dental insurance, you should know that insurance companies usually cover at least a portion of most general dentistry procedures.
Instead of focusing on how your teeth function, cosmetic dentistry focuses on how your teeth look. While cosmetic dentistry may sound like an exercise in vanity, it’s really much more than that. Several studies have shown that having an attractive smile improves a person’s self-esteem and has a positive effect on how people are perceived by others. So the benefits of cosmetic dentistry go far beyond simply wanting to be more attractive. Here are some of the procedures that commonly fall under the category of cosmetic dentistry:
- Teeth whitening
- Porcelain veneers
- Composite bonding
- Porcelain crowns
- Teeth straightening
- Porcelain bridge work
- Tooth-colored fillings
Although some procedures can fall into either the general dentistry or cosmetic dentistry category – porcelain crowns and tooth-colored fillings, for example – these two categories of dentistry are distinct specialties within the profession. Dentists who offer cosmetic procedures have often studied for many years to attain a level of expertise that is needed for work that requires such finesse. Cosmetic procedures can be somewhat expensive, but the results are usually well worth it from the point of view of most patients. You should know that while most dental insurance providers cover at least some portion of general dentistry procedures, the same is not true for cosmetic procedures. So check with your insurance provider to find out what, if any, cosmetic procedures they cover.
Most trained, experienced dentists can provide high quality general dentistry procedures for their patients. But if you’re looking for a dentist who can perform cosmetic procedures with a high level of skill, look for one who is trained and experienced within this specialized field.